I highly recommend asking your target market what they think of your website before you launch the site. My websites improve significantly after I make changes based on user feedback. An improved website leads to increased sales.
Here are some tips to make user testing more productive:
1. Only ask people that fit the profile of your target market. The only opinion that counts is that of your target market. I once had someone send me a list of changes his kid recommended. He believed his 20 year kid provided great feedback because he loved playing video games and that was like a website. If we were building a website for Gen X Gamers that would be true. Unfortunately, the target market was business managers from 35 to 55 years old.
2. Ask them to complete several tasks and watch them. If you cannot sit with them you can use screensharing on Skype. For example, if you have an ecommerce store, you can ask: “Find and purchase my lowest priced necklace.” Take note of how many steps it takes them to complete the task. Also note if they found themselves looking around confused.
3. Ask for adjectives without leading. My favorite question is, “Give me three adjectives to describe how you perceive my company website?” Before you ask this question jot down how you want to be perceived. Hopefully the answers match.
4. The Final Question. Your final question should be, “After visiting my website, would you buy from me and why?”
You don’t need any fancy tools or high priced testers. Simply ask your target market to look at your site.
Let me know if you received any user feedback that surprised you?